KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives On Health Reform: Trump Should Help The Health Law; GOP Isn’t Living Up To Its Obamacare Promises

Opinion writers offer their thoughts on the issues facing the health law.

The Washington Post: Trump Needs To Stop Sabotaging Obamacare — Before It’s Too Late
Yet the administration has stoked more uncertainty than it has allayed, leaving the health system in peril. The White House has been deciding month-to-month whether to keep important subsidy payments flowing to insurance companies — payments that were simply assumed during the Obama administration. Without these payments, insurers would have to jack up premiums or leave Obamacare markets next year. The CBO estimated Tuesday that average premiums would jump by 20 percent next year if the Trump administration pulled them. Moreover, because of how the payments interact with other elements of the health-care system, the government would end up losing money — $194 billion over a decade. (8/17)

San Antonio Press-Express: Go Back To Work, Repeal Obamacare
Democrat obstruction is devastating for ordinary, hard-working Texans, making it difficult for government to function. However, after seven years of promises, I find it amazing and deeply disappointing that congressional Republicans are unable to govern in spite of holding both chambers of Congress. (Don Kirchoff, 8/17)

The Washington Post: All Of These Health-Care Plans Are So 20th Century
House and Senate GOP health-care plans, like Obamacare itself, have squawked loudly about subsidizing demand but said little about the supply of doctors, nurses and drugs. That is economic malpractice. It is also so 20th-century. ... An aging population is pushing up demand, and without more supply, prices will catapult higher. Doctors are aging, too: More than 30 percent are 60 or older. Forecasts project a physician shortage ranging from 46,000 to 90,000 by 2025, especially among specialists. Already, one quarter of the federal budget goes to Medicare and Medicaid. Taxpayers will find themselves frustrated with packed waiting rooms and higher taxes. So what can Washington do to help spark a supply-side shock in health care? (Todd G. Buchholz, 8/17)

Roll Call: ‘Medicare For All’ Is The New ‘Repeal And Replace’
Like repeal and replace, Medicare for All is catchy. It’s simple. It makes the incredibly complex problem of providing universal health insurance sound easy — Medicare for all! Like repeal and replace on the right, single-payer health care is also popular with the Democratic base and quickly getting more popular with time. ... But the fine print on Medicare for All is much more complex. For one thing, there is almost no fine print on congressional proposals to extend Medicare to the entire population. (Patricia Murphy, 8/17)

Forbes: New Research Shows Many In Middle-Aged, Middle Class Can't Afford ACA Policies In 2018
Those predisposed to like the Affordable Care Act are pointing to the dwindling number of counties in which no insurer is willing to sell insurance. The fear of numerous "bare counties" appears to have gone away. Their celebration is understandable: those predisposed to dislike the Affordable Care Act had cited the number of bare counties as evidence of Obamacare's implosion. But the argument over bare counties is only part of the story. ... Another sensible measure of ACA success is the affordability of the policies being sold. (Seth Chandler, 8/17)

Health Insurance Resource Center: Who Really Needs The Public Option? Trump Country.
ACA marketplaces may never work well in rural areas. Indeed some of the very same counties lack Medicare Advantage plans, and for some of the same reasons. These areas have too few people for real competition among insurers or among providers. These gaps are not a huge problem in Medicare. Why is that? Because Medicare has a powerful alternative to Medicare Advantage. It’s called traditional Medicare, but it might as well be labeled the public option. ... So here’s the irony: Trump Country really needs a way to bypass the ACA marketplaces entirely. So Democrats’ favorite policy option – the public option – would be most valuable in precisely the deep-red areas that went most fervently for Republicans and for the President. (Harold Pollack, 8/15)

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